Chippewa Tribe

Chippewa Indians, Ojibway Indians, Ojibway Tribe (popular adaptation of Ojibway, ‘to roast till puckered up,’ referring, to the puckered seam on their moccasins; from ojib ‘to pucker up,’ ub-way ‘to roast’). One of the largest tribes North of Mexico, whose range was formerly along both shores of Lake Huron and Superior, extending across Minnesota Turtle Mountains, North Dakota. Although strong in numbers and occupying an extensive territory, the Chippewa were never prominent in history, owing to their remoteness from the frontier during the period of the colonial wars.  According tradition they are part of an Algonquian body, including the Ottawa and Potawatomi, which separated into divisions when it reached Mackinaw in its westward movement, having come from so point north or northeast of Mackinaw. Warren 1 asserts that they were settled in a large village at La Pointe, Wis., about the time of the discovery of America, and Verwyst 2 says that about 1612 they suddenly abandoned this locality, many of them going back to the Sault, while others settled at, the west end of Lake Superior, where Father Allouez found there in 1665-67. There is nothing found to sustain the statement of Warren and Verwyst in regard to the early residence of the tribe at La Pointe.

They were first noticed in the Jesuit Relation of 1640 under the name Baouichtigouin (probably Bāwa`tigōwininiwŭg, `people of the Sault’), as residing at the Sault, and it is possible that Nicollet met them in 1634 or 1639. In 1642 they were visited by Raymbaut and Jogues, who found them at the Sault and at war with a people to the west, doubtless the Sioux. A remnant or offshoot of the tribe resided north of Lake Superior after the main body moved south to Sault Ste Marie, or when it had reached the vicinity of the Sault. The Marameg, a tribe closely related to if not an actual division of the Chippewa, who dwelt along the north shore of the lake, were apparently incorporated with the latter while they were at the Sault, or at any rate prior to 1670 (Jesuit Rel., 1670). On the north the Chippewa are so closely connected with the Cree and Maskegon that the three can be distinguished only by those intimately acquainted with their dialects and customs, while on the south the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi have always formed a sort of loose confederacy, frequently designated in the last century the Three Fires. It seems to be well established that some of the Chippewa have resided north of Lake Superior from time immemorial. These and the Marameg claimed the north side of the lake as their country. According to Perrot some of the Chippewa living south of Lake Superior in 1670-99, although relying chiefly on the chase, cultivated some maize, and were then at peace with the neighboring Sioux. It is singular that this author omits to mention wild rice (Zizania aquatica) among their food supplies, since the possession of wild-rice fields was one of the chief causes of their wars with the Dakota, Foxes, and other nations, and according to Jenks 3 10,000 Chippewa in the United States use it at the present time. About this period they first came into possession of firearms, and were pushing their way westward, alternately at peace and at war with the Sioux and in almost constant conflict with the Foxes. The French, in 1692, reestablished a trading post at Shaugawaumikong, now La Pointe, Island, Ashland County, Wis., which became an important Chippewa settlement. In the beginning of the 18th century the Chippewa succeeded in driving the Foxes, already reduced by war with the French, from north Wisconsin, compelling them to take refuge with the Sauk. They then turned against the Sioux, driving them across the Mississippi and south to Minnesota river, and continued their westward march across Minnesota and North Dakota until they, occupied the headwaters of Red river, and established their westernmost band in the Turtle mountains. It was not until after 1736 that they obtained a foothold west of Lake Superior. While the main divisions of the tribe were thus extending their possessions in the west, others overran the peninsula between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, which had long been claimed by the Iroquois through conquest. The Iroquois were forced to withdraw, and the whole region was occupied by the Chippewa bands, most of who are now known as Missisauga, although they still call themselves Ojibwa. The Chippewa took part with the other tribes of the northwest in all the wars against the frontier settlements to the close of the war of 1812. Those living within the United States made a treaty with the Government in 1815, and have since remained peaceful, all residing on reservations or allotted lands within their original territory in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota, with the exception of the small band of Swan Creek and Black River Chippewa, who sold their lands in south Michigan in 1836 and are now with the Munsee in Franklin County bands.

Schoolcraft, who was personally acquainted with the Chippewa and married a woman of the tribe, describes the Chippewa warriors as equaling in physical appearance the best formed of the northwest Indians, with the possible exception of the Foxes. Their long and successful contest with the Sioux and Foxes exhibited their bravery and determination, yet they were uniformly friendly in their relations with the French. The Chippewa area timber people. Although they have long been in friendly relations with the whites, Christianity has had but little effect on them, owing largely to the conservatism of the native medicine-men. It is affirmed by Warren, who is not disposed to accept any statement that tends to disparage the character of his people, that, according to tradition, the division of the tribe residing at La Pointe practiced cannibalism, while Fattier Belcourt affirms that, although the Chippewa of Canada treated the vanquished with most horrible barbarity and at these times ate human flesh, they looked upon cannibalism, except under such conditions, with horror. According to Dr William Jones 4 the Pillagers of Bear id. assert that cannibalism was occasionally practiced ceremonially by the Chippewa of Leech lake, and that since 1902 the eating of human flesh occurred on Rainy river during stress of hunger. It was the custom of the Pillager band to allow a warrior who scalped an enemy to wear on his head two eagle feathers, and the act of capturing a wounded prisoner on the battlefield earned the distinction of wearing five. Like the Ottawa, they were expert in the use, of the canoe, and in their early history depended largely on fish for food. There is abundant evidence that polygamy was common, and indeed it still occurs among the more wandering bands (Jones). Their wigwams were made of birch bark or of grass mats; poles were first planted in the ground in a circle, the tops bent together and tied, and the bark or mats thrown over them, leaving a smoke hole at the top. They imagined that the shade, after the death of the body, followed a wide beaten path, leading toward the west, finally arriving in a country abounding in everything the Indian desires. It is a general belief among the northern Chippewa that the spirit often returns to visit the grave, so long as the body is not reduced to dust. Their creation myth is that common among the northern Algonquians. Like most other tribes they believe that a mysterious power dwells in all objects, animate and inanimate. Such objects are manitus, which are ever wakeful and quick to hear everything in the summer, but in winter, after snow falls, are in a torpid state. The Chippewa regard dreams as revelations, and some object which appears therein is often chosen as a tutelary deity. The Medewiwin, or grand medicine society 5, was formerly a powerful organization of the Chippewa, which controlled the movements of the tribe and was a formidable obstacle to the introduction of Christianity.

When a Chippewa died it was customary to place the body in a grave facing west, often in a sitting posture, or to scoop a shallow cavity in the earth and deposit the body therein on its back or side, covering it with earth so as to form a small mound, over which boards, poles, or birch bark were placed. According to McKenney 6, the Chippewa of Fond du Lac, Wis., practiced scaffold burial, the corpse being enclosed in a box., Mourning for a lost relative continued for a year, unless shortened by the meda or by certain exploits in war.

It is impossible to determine the past or present numbers of the Chippewa, as in former times only a small part of the tribe came in contact with the whites at any period, and they are now so mixed with other tribes in many quarters that no separate returns are given. The principal estimates are as follow: In 1764, about 25,000; 1783 and 1794, about 15,000; 1843, about 30,000; 1851, about 28,000. It is probable that most of these estimates take no account of more remote lands. In 1884 there were in Dakota 914; in Minnesota, 5,885; in Wisconsin, 3,656; in Michigan, 3,500 returned separately, and 6,000 Chippewa and Ottawa, of whom perhaps one-third are Chippewa; in Kansas, 76 Chippewa and Munsee. The entire number in the United States at this time was therefore about 16,000. In British America those of Ontario, including the Nipissing, numbered at the same time about 9,000, while in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories there were 17,129 Chippewa and Cree on reservations under the same agencies. The Chippewa now (1905) probably number 30,000 to 32,000-15,000 in British America and 14,144 in the United States, exclusive of about 3,000 in Michigan.

  1. Warren, Minn. Hist. Soc. Coll., v, 1885[]
  2. Verwyst, Missionary Labors, 1886[]
  3. Jenks, 19th Rep. B.A.E., 1900[]
  4. information, 1905,[]
  5. see Hoffman, 7th Rep. B. A. E., 1891[]
  6. McKenney, Tour to the Lakes, 1827[]


Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

20 thoughts on “Chippewa Tribe”

  1. I need to know what Tribe was/is in the Franklin, Indiana area. That is where my mother was born. Her maiden name was Miner and through another site, I have found that she was part of the line of the Chippewa. I have found family that are Chippewa. I am apparently related to Louis Philip LaDuke, Chippewa. Does anyone know the Tribe from the Franklin, Indiana area? Who do I contact? Any help would be appreciated.
    Thank you…

  2. I have been searching for information on my great grand father who was choose a and I can’t seen to find anything on him on anything can any one help his name was wilbur eldon march and he married beatrice Jackson . I cant seem to find anything on them and would love to find out my familys history

  3. Ive never known my family tree, who we really came from, how much monry we really got, and if i got my real family waiting for me still?

  4. July 6, 1752, Jean Brian, son of the late Jean and Janne Vigne, of the parish of Toussaint in the town of Rennes, a soldier married with captain’s permission; and of Francoise, a Saulteux woman, after publication of bans…
    p. Du Jaunay, miss. of the society of Jesus
    Ja Brian dit Bealiu; Jasmain; Bourassa….Jean Beauleu dit Brilliant and Francoise Itagisse dit Chretiene was my 6th generation great grandparents. I come through Cecile Brilliant who married Peter Meny, they had a son Peter who married Cecile Chartiers, they had a daughter Archange (Agnes) who married a Bouvier 1st then married John Lozen, they had a daughter Alice who married William Delorge, they had a son William Delorge Jr who married Josephine Solgot, who had a son Irving DeLorge Sr who married Bertha(Emma) Schuette, who had a son Irving DeLorge Jr my Father….I was told thru research that Francoise was related to Okemos thru his Mother…his Father was Chief Minetogoboway and his uncle was Ottawan Kobekonoka. Please email me at…Thank you from Lou Ann Boylan

  5. I am looking for my biological grandfather who was a circus trainer of bears and was malled by the bear in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. puts me on a mother line of the Qjibwe tribe. My grandmother Genevieve Leblanc was born in January 19 or 21, 1904. I come in about 77 percent English, Scottish and Irish. I believe my biological grandfather is of that descent, probably married to my grandmother.

  6. I was born on the reservation in Garage County,Michigan. When I was 3I was placed in the foster system. I was told i I was too Indian to be adopted by white people and too white to live in the reservation.I don’t know anything about my family and was hoping maybe somebody could point me in a direction to look or might have information I would be greatful! All I have is my parents name. Mark and Barbara LeBeau. I would like to know more about my ancestry but am not sure how to begin. When I was 11 I finally got adopted. It had been a constant battle with the tribal court to allow me to be adopted .I would just like to know more of where I came from who my ancestors are.

  7. Kellie Crook Smith

    I am also looking for information about her as well. She is my mothers 3rd great grandmother. I am trying to locate her mother and father to find out the rest of our heritage.

  8. I have lived In the south all my life I know my family Is all cherokee,I would like to know what other part of Indian I am
    Thank you !!

  9. Constance VanBlaricom

    Looking for information on my g.g. grandfather Chief Robert Caldwell, his son Sheldon Caldwell my grandmother Mabel Caldwell and her sisters, Clara, Agnes, Lena and Zeta.

  10. I am searching for information about my g- grandmother born on Sugar Island in mid 1800s and married to a Vanderbur (spelling may be incorrect). As a couple, moved to a farm around Sault St. Marie Mi and raised a family of 4 living and multiple dead infants. My grandmother Ada and a brother Nelson as well as two more kids ( names I do not know)survived but I understand two survivors may
    ave been sent away to mission . Ada married a McCarron

  11. I am looking for any information about an adoption between 2 sisters. Last name of Reid. A baby boy whos father last name was Webster. Around the late 1890s. From Chippewa Ontario.. I dont have a whole lot of information other than his auntie raised him as her own and moved to the toronto area.
    Tks. R. ( Reid) Carter

  12. Looking for info on a Chippewa Indian Princess who married a Chester Owen Cove. I believe it was in the state of Michigan. Chester was born around 1912, I believe and passed around 1977. Thank You

  13. Look up Drumman Island. Go to fort drumman. See if you find anything about your family. Good luck.

  14. I am trying to find history on my 2nd great grandmother Ke-wish-te-ka-quay (Mary anne Mazeau) who married a French person Antoine Sharrow in the Saginaw area. Two of her sons were included in the land allocation of the 1870’s. She was born in Green Lake, UP in early 1800’s. I am looking for support so I can verify her background!. If you can provide me any direction, I would appreciate it. Thank you.

  15. Im connecting to Andrew Duncan born 1675 died 1505 Scottland Andrew Duncan Married to Chippewa Indian, she born 1580 rockland New York died 1575 Scottland buried to Leelanau county ,Michigan

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